September 19, 2019
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Keep your Doritos to yourself (and other bear avoidance tips)

John Holyoke | BDN
John Holyoke | BDN
Paddlers begin racing their war canoes on the Stillwater River during the final Orono Paddlers event of the summer on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2018.

All it takes is one guy who’s not careful about his Doritos-storage technique to ruin it for all of us snack-loving dudes.

That was the message (more or less) from Baxter State Park this week, as officials have formulated a plan of action to deal with some human-caused bear problems.

It seems that late last month, a visitor to the park left a bag of Doritos and some English muffins lying around, and a bear stopped by for a snack.

The saddest part of the whole saga: During an interview, I sadly neglected to ask park naturalist Marc Edwards whether the bear favored Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch or some other new-fangled Doritos flavor.

The second-saddest: One bear that keeps showing up in a group camping area of the park may end up being relocated, if park officials cannot deter his midday snack runs with a barrage of rubber bullets.

For those of us watching the snack-motivated antics of Yogi and Boo-Boo, the fact Baxter bears are interested in raiding the picnic baskets of visitors comes as no surprise.

But no matter how many times park staffers warn folks about securing their food and garbage, as well as other things that simply smell like food — toothpaste, for instance — all it takes is one uncooperative camper for things to go awry.

And the next thing you know, you have a bear wandering through your campsite, looking for some jam for the English muffins, or some dip to go with his bag of chips.

Now, the serious message: Here in Maine, we’re lucky to live so close to so many wild critters. But let’s make sure that we’re not causing an unnecessary problem. Nuisance bears typically become nuisances for a simple reason: Somebody, somewhere, left a food source in the wrong place.

Especially when we’re camping, it’s essential that all of us avoid behaviors that can draw bears to our campsites.

Not that you have to leave your Doritos at home, of course. Just make sure you stash them in a bear-safe spot when you’re done snacking.

And as Baxter State Park officials cautioned in a Facebook post, trying to move closer to a bear (or any other wild animal, for that matter) so that you can get that perfect Instagram photo is probably not your best plan of action.

Be smart. Have fun. And don’t feed the bears.

Why not paddle?

If you’re looking for an outdoorsy summer activity for you and your family, you may be interested in checking out a weekly program being run by the Orono Paddlers.

The group runs a summer community paddling series each Thursday into September, with low-key races or group paddling opportunities on the Stillwater River.

I headed up there last year to check out their cardboard canoe race and was impressed by the scene — a bunch of families and friends, young and old, engaging in some healthy outdoor pursuits and cheering one another on.

The series events are staged at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday, but participants are encouraged to show up at Brownie’s Beach on Bennoch Road at 6 p.m.

Come August, the group will have regular races of war canoes as part of the Thursday series. Adults and kids will team up in the huge boats.

To find out more about Orono Paddlers or to get involved, check the website here.

Calling all anglers

So, how’s your summer going? Caught any fish? Have any stories to tell?

I’m sure many BDN readers have a few fishing tales to tell, and as always, we’re interested in hearing them.

We’ve learned that our readers love to read about the fishing (and hunting) adventures of others.

If you want to pass along a funny story, or tell us about the whopper your young son or daughter just caught, feel free to send an email to me at the address below.

Photos are welcome, too.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.com or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter, @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” will be released by Islandport Press in October.



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